RICHMOND, Va. --- Duke earned its third victory this season in as many games as it dominated the Richmond Spiders, 17-6, on Friday afternoon at a cold and rainy First Market Stadium. The Blue Devils were led on offense by junior midfielder Carolyn Davis with three goals and three assists and on defense by junior goalie Kim Imbesi with 10 saves and five ground balls.
“I thought that our girls were well prepared and knew what to expect,” said head coach Kerstin Kimel. “I thought we did a great job of being disciplined and sticking to our game plan.”
Duke got off to a fast start in the first period on the strength of three goals by Davis in the first eight minutes. Senior midfielder Allie Johnson notched the next two scores for Duke and built an 8-2 lead going into the break after scoring the last five goals of the half.
The Devil defense was stifling throughout the game, and in the first stanza alone caused seven turnovers, broke up three of eight clears and limited the Spiders to just six shots and two goals. Guided by Imbesi’s 10 saves for the game, the defensive unit caused a total of 12 turnovers, including two by Davis, and shut down Richmond by giving up just six goals on 19 shots. Two of those six scores came in the final three minutes of the contest, when the matter had already been decided.
“We were just much more aware today than the first two games, and as a defensive unit we were trusting each other and being able to send out doubles a lot sooner,” said Johnson.
The first 1:32 of the second half gave Duke a small scare, as Richmond came out and hit paydirt twice, but 8-4 was as close as the Spiders would get the rest of the way. The Blue Devils would control the ball and score the next eight goals, including three by freshman midfielder Sarah Bullard, over a span of 25:36 in the second stanza.
Duke got a big game from Johnson, who tallied three goals and a team-best five draw controls. The native of Annapolis, Md., has absolutely dominated on the draw this season, picking up 14 in just three games. The Blue Devils were once again successful on the draw as a team, holding a 17-7 advantage overall.
“We have a lot of girls on the circle who are willing to box out and fight for the ball if it’s in the air or on the ground,” said Johnson. “That’s all it really comes down to.”
Also making major contributions were junior midfielder Jess Adam with two goals and four draw controls, sophomore midfielder Lindsay Gilbride with two scores and a dish and freshman attacker Christie Kaestner, who lit it up for one goal and added three assists. Freshman midfielder Emma Hamm continued her strong play with one goal, one assist and three draw controls and junior attacker Megan Del Monte chipped in with a goal and an assist.
“Obviously Carolyn Davis, Allie Johnson, Megan Del Monte and Jess Adam are our experience out there,” said Kimel. “They know our offensive system and understand its values and keep the whole group intact and the offense running. They can set each other up and allow the freshmen to fill in the gaps nicely.”
Davis has been fully cleared to play for less than three weeks after suffering a torn ACL in the final game of the 2007 season, and her move to low attack has provided a plethora of offense for Duke. The native of Skaneateles, N.Y., has scored 11 and seven assists this season. She was named to Inside Lacrosse’s Preseason All-America third team and is one of 44 NCAA players on the Tewaaraton Trophy committee’s preseason watch list.
The Spiders were paced by junior attackers Lexie Morocco with two goals and one assist and Mandy Friend with one goal and two assists. Friend, who is also on the Tewaaraton Trophy preseason watch list, was held without a goal for the first 57:02 of the match by Bullard and sophomore midfielder Danielle Kachulis.
The win pushed the Blue Devils to 3-0 for the seventh consecutive season and eighth time in the program’s 13 years. Richmond fell to 2-1 on the year.
Duke improved to 8-1 all-time against Richmond, having only lost to the Spiders in the Blue Devil program’s first season of existence in 1996.
The Blue Devils will continue their road swing through Virginia when they check in to Williamsburg for a Sunday tilt with William & Mary at 1 p.m. After this weekend, Duke will face ACC foe Maryland (No. 3 IL/No. 4 LM) on Saturday, March 1 at 12:00 p.m., at home in Koskinen Stadium. It will be the first of three March doubleheaders with the men’s lacrosse team, who will also face Maryland that evening at 5:30 p.m.